United States Attorney Sherri A. Lydon announced that joint federal, state and local investigation has resulted in 10 individuals being charged in two separate cases in federal court for their roles in drug trafficking organizations that operated in the Lowcountry of South Carolina. 

“Today, we announce the takedown of 10 bad actors through Operation Lowcountry Line,” Lydon said. “This represents a line of state, local, and federal authorities working in lockstep with one another to curb the violence. We have drawn a line as we warn those intent on violating the rights of citizens to be safe in their communities that there will be consequences. With freedom comes responsibility: The responsibility to adhere to the rule of law.”

“These indictments and arrests are the results of a committed partnership between federal, state and local law enforcement. Together, we will remain resolved to investigate and arrest those individuals who pose a direct threat to our communities by trafficking in drugs and violence,” said Jody Norris, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI.

In the first indictment, six defendants have been charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and to distribute cocaine. Additionally, three of the defendants have been charged with firearms offenses:

  • Lamar Louis Johnson, aka “McJag,” age 39, of Mount Pleasant, was attributed 5 kilograms or more of cocaine in the conspiracy count and charged with using a communication facility to facilitate drug trafficking and possessing with intent to distribute cocaine;
  • Theadore Bernard Gadsden, aka “Teddy,” a/k/a “Chest,” age 30, of Mount Pleasant, was attributed a quantity of heroin and 500 grams or more of cocaine in the conspiracy count and charged with possessing with intent to distribute cocaine, being a felon in possession of a firearm, and using a communication facility to facilitate drug trafficking;
  • Jaton Edwards, aka “Julio,” age 29, of North Charleston, was attributed 500 grams or more of cocaine in the conspiracy count and charged with possessing with the intent to distribute cocaine, using a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, and being a felon in possession of a firearm;
  • Jarvis Behrens, age 27, of Mount Pleasant, was attributed 500 grams or more of cocaine in the conspiracy count and charged with possessing with intent to distribute cocaine;
  • Theodore Bernard Gadsden, age 60, of Mount Pleasant, was attributed a quantity of cocaine in the conspiracy count and charged with using a communication facility to facilitate drug trafficking and possessing with intent to distribute cocaine; and
  • Pierce Nelson, age 28, of Mount Pleasant, was attributed a quantity of cocaine in the conspiracy count and charged with possessing with intent to distribute cocaine, using a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, and being a felon in possession of a firearm.

In the second indictment, four defendants have been charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and to distribute heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine, and cocaine base. Three have been taken into custody:

  • Devant Porcher, aka “Dub,” age 34, of North Charleston, was attributed 100 grams or more of heroin, 5 grams or more of methamphetamine, 28 grams or more of cocaine base, and a quantity of cocaine in the conspiracy count and charged with 13 additional counts related to the distribution of heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine, and cocaine base;
  • Melinda Lee Lynch, age 40, of Moncks Corner, was attributed 5 grams or more of methamphetamine in the conspiracy count and charged with possessing with intent to distribute and distributing methamphetamine and heroin; and
  • Wandesha Smalls, age 36, of North Charleston, was attributed 5 grams or more of methamphetamine and a quantity of heroin in the conspiracy count and charged with possessing with intent to distribute and distributing methamphetamine and heroin.

These nine defendants were taken into custody yesterday morning. During the course of the investigation into these drug trafficking organizations, agents have seized almost two kilograms of cocaine, almost 100 grams of crack cocaine, 480 grams of heroin, 440 grams of methamphetamine and seven firearms.

Johnson faces a maximum penalty of life in federal prison and a maximum fine of $10 million. Theadore Gadsden, Edwards, Behrens, Porcher, Lynch, and Smalls each face up to 40 years in federal prison and a maximum fine of $5 million. Theodore Gadsden, Nelson, and Simmons each face up to 20 years in federal prison and a maximum fine of $1 million.

The case was investigated by agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), United States Postal Inspection Service, North Charleston Police Department, Mount Pleasant Police Department, City of Charleston Police Department, Charleston County Sheriff’s Office, South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED), and Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office. It is being prosecuted as part of the joint federal, state, and local Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts. PSN is an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime. Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them. As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime. Assistant United States Attorneys Sean Kittrell and Nick Bianchi of the Charleston office are prosecuting the case.

The United States Attorney stated that all charges in these indictments are merely accusations and that all defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

This information was provided by the United States Attorney District of South Carolina.